For over 60 hours, there have been reports of how there was specific intelligence and no action taken. Fair enough we had advance intelligence, the IB was in the know of the infiltration and the Punjab police too were aware that terrorists had infiltrated.
What is the use? The Pathankot air force station referred to as the Pride of India has been hit and while terrorists would call this a spectacular attack, for all of us it embarrassing.
Speaking to several officers who have served in the IAF, they have just one question to ask. If there was intelligence, why was it not acted upon. Who is to ensure that the specific intelligence is acted upon? [Timeline of Pathankot terror attack]
However, the bigger debating point in all this is that the attack took place only a few days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an unexpected visit to Pakistan. For many it seemed like a good will gesture.
Prime Ministers may change, but Pakistan will not. History has shown that Pakistan has attacked India after every such attempt is made by India to strike peace.
Pakistan has 2 policies:
It is a well known fact that the Prime Minister of Pakistan is a mere puppet in the hands of the army and ISI. The army and the ISI benefit more from war and terror when compared to peace. Pakistan is a proxy state for many in the West to keep the region under boil and all of us aware that the military and the ISI get funds in large numbers because of this.
Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif may have all the good intentions, but the question is how much can he really do. He can do nothing and any attempt made by any Prime Minister in Pakistan to ease out the powers of the ISI and the army has never succeeded. Sharif has a had a dose of a coup when he was over thrown by Pervez Musharaff.
Even in the recent past he was almost thrown out of power by Imran Khan who was clearly talking the words of the ISI and the Pakistan army.
Did the PM and his men forget that Pakistan has a two faced policy- one for the world and one for India. Was the guard let down as a result of this diplomacy? Ideally after every good will gesture with Pakistan, it must be remembered that the borders need to be more secure rather than the guard let down. We have seen a Kargil and a 26/11 and these were all presents from the Pakistan army to India for trying and talking peace.
What is the line of defence?
When it comes to Pakistan there is always that nagging problem of it being a nuclear state. Pakistan would not mind its self destruction, but can India afford it. Taking these into account, war is really not the option. Prime Minister Modi would know that unlike the United States of America, we cannot send in our soldiers anywhere and at anytime and launch a war.
When George W Bush told Pervez Musharaff post 9/11, " your are either with us or against us," he was dead serious about his intentions. He made that statement knowing fully well that the US could attack Afghanistan whether Pakistan supported them or not. The army, the ISI and the government towed the line. Can India issue such a statement in the aftermath of a terror strike on its soil? [Pathankot: How did terrorists carry so much ammunition around for 2 days]
There has been a lot of buzz about conducting surgical strikes or carry out covert operations in Pakistan in the aftermath of the Pathankot attack. It is not as simple as many would think to fly in fighter jets into Bhawalpur and take out Maulana Masood Azhar. It would blow into a full fledged crisis with China and the US quickly coming to the aid of Pakistan.
Intelligence is fine, but what about the coordination?
In the aftermath of every terror attack, there are two points that crop up. Was there intelligence or did it fail. In this case there was intelligence that even pin pointed the place the attack. We hear of high level meetings that were conducted in New Delhi by the National Security Advisor and how the NSG was sent in time.
Statements such as, " had there been no intelligence, the attack would have been worse, " are feel good in nature. Even the terrorists were aware of the extent of the damage they could inflict at the air force station. The IAF has said that key areas of the station are safe. While that is commendable, it came at the cost of seven brave soldiers.
However, the bigger point is not about what was secured, but the fact that the terrorists kept over 500 armed personnel engaged in a battle for over 60 hours. [Pathankot attack: Why did terrorists let the SP go, NIA seeks to know]
Is it sufficient if intelligence is shared. Someone in New Delhi in control of national security must also ensure that intelligence is acted upon. The IAF, BSF are under the control of the centre it must be remembered. They report directly to the defence ministry. One could also blame the Punjab police for failing. What Delhi has to realise that the seriousness of international terrorism is understood better in the capital than the states.
Another point of debate is the premature declaration of the operation being concluded by the Union Minister Rajnath Singh. On January 2, he put out a tweet stating that five terrorists were killed and the operation was over.
The tweet was deleted a few hours later after he realised that the operation was still underway. Why did Singh take information from the Punjab police and tweet about it. The NSG which reports to his ministry was undertaking the operation and they had not confirmed that the operation was over.
Where diplomacy must work
When 18 military personnel were ambushed by the Myanmar based terrorist group, NSCN(K), there was a claim made by a minister that India had carried out surgical strikes. For starters this is not something to announce in public. Myanmar showed good will in allowing a surgical strike on its soil, but did not expect that India would go public with it and even denied any such incident.
Sri Lanka is a crucial nation for India. It is after all the gateway to South India. After the Sri Lankan elections were over, there was a report which stated that the R&aW had staged a coup to ensure that Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated. India wanted him defeated because of his proximity to China. Has the China role in Sri Lanka reduced. The answer is no and Sri Lanka cannot afford to let go off China for a variety of reasons and one being heavy financial investments.
Nepal is another case where diplomacy has failed. Ever since Nepal came out with its new Constitution, there have been protests by a section of the people. India had blocked out key trade routes and this has only led to Nepal seeking aid from China. The countries in and around must matter to the Indian government. India needs to become the big brother in this region. If diplomacy continues to fail in this part of the country, then it could spell more trouble.